NEW DELHI: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Monday criticised the political class of the country for quietly accepting consistent deprivations such as the “appalling levels” of under-nourishment among children, comprehensive absence of opportunity for basic schooling and continuing lack of entitlement to medical attention.
Referring to recent agitations in the country against hike in fuel prices and the India-U.S. nuclear deal, Professor Sen said it was easy to agitate over new problems that generate immediate and vocal discontent.
“What is amazing is the quiet acceptance of the consistent deprivations,” he said while delivering the inaugural of Hiren Mukherjee Memorial Parliamentary Lecture on “Demands of Social Justice” in the Central Hall of Parliament House.
Critical of the manner in which persistent deprivation was being tolerated without much political interest, Professor Sen said: “Justice demands that we make a strong effort to identify the overwhelming priorities that have to be confronted with total urgency.”
Much of his lecture was devoted to probing the idea of social justice and drawing a distinction between “niti” and “nyaya” — both of which stand for justice in Sanskrit.
Ahead of his hour-long lecture, Professor Sen admitted to being a tad frightened by the thought of having to speak in the Central Hall of Parliament.
Stating that the recent trust vote debate in the Lok Sabha heightened his apprehensions, he went down memory lane to say that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — a colleague at the Delhi School of Economics — had an easier time lecturing students.
Earlier, lauding Professor Sen’s work, Dr. Singh said: “The policies and principles of our government, as indeed the intellectual inspiration for the National Common Minimum Programme, are drawn from the world view that Amartya has come to represent,” particularly inclusive growth.
PM lauds Somnath
Hailing Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee for taking the initiative in organising the lecture, the Prime Minister said: “The entire country has come to look up to him for balance and fair play in the functioning of the Lok Sabha. He is a true inheritor of the legacy of Comrade Hiren Mukherjee.”
Of the view that providing social and economic justice to the vast segments of the masses who had been kept out of the socio-political mainstream should be among the core concerns of the country, Mr. Chatterjee said the challenge before the national leadership was to look beyond partisan and confrontational politics.
7 months ago